Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


An Irony named Keisha

posted by xscot mcknight

As Kris said to me last night, “Who would ever have thought that this [your] face would end up in People magazine?” Of course, I’m stretching the truth — you won’t see my face in People, but you just might see a quotation.
They are doing a story on Mary and The Nativity Story, and they gave me a call. Of course, the magazine eluded me. When my publicist told me that People wanted to talk to me, my mind wandered not to People but to Newsweek. So, after talking to the newswriter and sitting down at lunch with my student (Ben Wickstrom), I said “People” and then thought, “Good grief, that’s at the grocery store.”
The editor, Kathy Dowd, and I chatted for about 15 minutes — I standing in a very light drizzle. We wandered through Mary and the movie and then Keisha Castle-Hughes, and the big issue: Her not being invited to the Vatican for the International Premiere. Now, I’ll say this again: the rumor is that it had to do with her pregnancy. I don’t know if this is true. Now see this — the publicist says she is missing premieres because of working on another film.
The gist of my comment: This is a delicious irony — Mary’s actress being in the same social situation as Mary herself, and I hope the Church (all of us, and I’m not thinking here of the Vatican) will respond to Keisha in ways unlike the way Mary’s culture responded to her. (And The Nativity Story makes a big deal of how poorly she was treated.) And I believe in Mary’s virginal conception.
How do we treat with compassion those who have “broken the rules”?



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Ryan

posted November 29, 2006 at 3:03 am


How do we treat with compassion those who have “broken the rules”?

I think you meant… “How do we treat with compassion those who have “broken the man-made rules”… right?



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Ted Gossard

posted November 29, 2006 at 4:25 am


One way I do this is to look at myself. Have I always kept the rules? End of discussion.



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Tim Gombis

posted November 29, 2006 at 5:46 am


We’ve been reading Mark in our home-group and one of the things that has constantly struck us is how Jesus treats the “outsiders” as “insiders” and how the “insiders” don’t really “get” Jesus, but show themselves to actually be “outsiders.”
So, perhaps a first step is to realize that Jesus is supremely interested in those who have “broken the rules,” and unless we rightly name ourselves as “those who have broken the rules,” we put ourselves in danger of not getting Jesus. After all, it’s the sick who need a doctor, the lost who need salvation.



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Chase

posted November 29, 2006 at 7:10 am


Scot, Great question! She broke the rules, like we all have. We should certainly give her compassion. Our Father is the Father of mercy! Thanks also for going out of your way to make an affirmation of faith- that encourages mine!



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Duane Young

posted November 29, 2006 at 7:25 am


Someone quite wise once offered this, “You–the one without any sin get to throw the first stone–go right ahead–have at it!”



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Rachel

posted November 29, 2006 at 9:12 am


How do you treat someone who has broken the rules? How do you pick up the pieces, and help those close and dear to you to live compassionately, but realize this was not God’s way? It is easy to quote scripture and believe you would do what Jesus would do, but until you are faced with a situation where you must face this question, you cannot understand the confusion and “why me?”, “why now?”
despair. I am in the middle of such a situation, having to help 3 sons still love and respect their father after his abandoning us, and also help them seek God in the situation. I am struggling to learn to show compassion to this man, and the compassion people show me gives me that stength. I have (and still do) walk every moment with God through prayers, journaling and tears (Job has nothing on me!)but the compassion God has shown me has been awesome. It is in watching someone you love dearly,
and when they so completely hurt you, that you catch a glimpse of how your own wrong actions and thoughts deeply hurt God. You show compassion when you learn to be humble.



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Scott Eaton

posted November 29, 2006 at 9:14 am


Ryan (#1),
Staying chaste until marriage and only having children in wedlock is not a “man-made rule.” I believe that it is God who wrote the “rules” concerning sexual purity, not people.
With that said, what do we do when someone has broken the “rules”? I think the Apostle Paul has stated it better than I could, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Galatians 6:1-3).
We are called to bring restoration, with gentleness (correct someone who has succumb to the works of the flesh in a demonstration of the fruit of the Spirit) and humility, bearing the other’s burden and fulfilling the law of Christ – that we love one another (see also Galatians 5:13-14). I don’t think the temptation here is to fall into the same sin, but rather to pridefully consider myself better than the person I am trying to restore comparing myself to him/her instead of Jesus. Like Chase (#4) said, “She broke the rules, like we all have.”
This obviously takes great patience (more Spirit fruit), but is well worth the effort.



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Dennis Martin

posted November 29, 2006 at 9:34 am


I was taught in moral theology that it is wrong to trade in hearsay. Why is everyone so quick to believe People Magazine’s rumormongering and assume the worst about the absence of Keisha Castle-Hughes from the Vatican premiere? The Vatican has denied the rumors. Unless one has trustworthy knowledge to the contrary, we are required by Christian charity, I was taught, to put the best construction possible on others’ actions. Are there subtle prejudices at work here?
I don’t get it as far as the supposed ironic parallels between Mary and Ms. Castle-Hughes are concerned. Unless someone is seriously suggesting that she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit, it is objectively true that she is unmarried and pregnant. That means she did do something that by Christian standards is immoral. Mary did nothing immoral. No one could have known that she had done nothing immoral, of course, so they assumed she had done something immoral. And thus we do not blame them for their assumption–at least I do not. Were they all uncompassionate? Perhaps, but we don’t know. One can be compassionate toward Ms. Castle-Hughes without denying that she did something immoral. Joseph was compassionate toward her even before he knew the source of her pregnancy. It is not impossible that others in her circle, even while believing on the basis of the only information they had that she had sinned, might have nonetheless been compassionate.
Mary suffered from it the lack of compassion of those who were uncompassionate and she suffered even more the pain of not being able to tell them the true story. This is the suffering of an innocent. This often happens in life. and Mary anticipates in this way the innocent suffering of her Son, experiences the sword piercing her heart even before Simeon’s prophecy.
But none of that applies to Ms. Castle-Hughes. By all means be compassionate toward her while recognizing that she sinned.
And we have no reason, as far as I can see, to believe that the people in the Vatican, whatever the reason she was absent from the premier, lack compassion toward her. We simply don’t know what they feel or think about her.
Why fortify People Magazine’s innuendo attack on the Vatican? What good is served thereby? How about a bit of compassion toward the Vatican, unless one has evidence of turpitude on the part of those involved?
I see no irony at all here, only cheap shots to sell magazines.
Dennis “that out-of-line guy” Martin



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David

posted November 29, 2006 at 9:48 am


“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Look to yourself, lest you too be tempted.”
Galatians 6
I think that the place of where we can help is to restore in a spirit of gentleness and humility. If we are reminded that we too are Prodigal’s then it is easier to convey what is on God’s heart. A painting by Rembrandt is very good at illustrating that we need to feel God’s love in our own life.
http://europeanworldgallery.com/images/artists/DecorationArt/FineArtPrints/Il%20figliol%20ProdigoL-The%20prodigal%20son.jpg
If we are aware of God’s love then that is what we give to others………if we are not aware of God’s love then that is that we give to others…. judgement and condemnation. I think that sometimes we have the idea that we can change someone when we really cant. Only God can transform anothers heart. We cant really do anything except pray and ask God to do his work.
“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to every one, an apt teacher, forbearing, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2



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Dennis Martin

posted November 29, 2006 at 9:55 am


Correction: Joseph was compassionate toward Mary (not Castle-Hughes) before he knew the source of her pregnancy.
To be more precise, most people around Mary would have assumed that she was pregnant by Joseph, which was not considered entirely immoral, was it? Only Joseph would have assumed that she had slept with another man–and he was compassionate even then–until he was informed otherwise by the angel.
So I really don’t see parallels at all between the two women. Castle-Hughes is unapologetically proud of being pregnant and unmarried. Even apart from the immorality of sex outside marriage, we know objectively that this is bad for the child. Surely we can be clear about the wrongness of this while still being compassionate.
And please do not judge whether someone is compassionate solely by tone or style. Sometimes one of the most compassionate things a person can do is to confront another with the truth, to speak the truth, about sin. Our culture however nearly always deflects the truth by ad hominem attacks on the truth-teller, accusing him of being uncompassionate, thereby avoiding having to confront the truth he tells. (That’s what the wink-wink rumormongering about the Vatican premiere does.) And the truth-teller may in fact be uncompassionate. But one can also tell the truth in love, compassionately. Our culture rarely stops to decide which is at hand but simply brands any teller of unwelcome truth “uncompassionate.”



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Julie Clawson

posted November 29, 2006 at 10:10 am


Dennis -
your response here demonstrates exactly why unwed mothers don’t experience love, compassion, and support from the church. Why they would rather have nothing to do with the church. When people would rather make their situation worse by making sure they know they sinned instead of loving them as people it portrays the church as a hypocritical harsh system. It is not compassionate to point the finger at unwed mothers (as if one has never done anything wrong themself) no matter how you spin the theology. They know what’s happened to them, at that point the church should be doing everything possible to make the future better instead of wallowing the the mire of the past as it often seems to enjoy. No wonder many previously churched unwed mothers leave the church or choose a secret abortion over facing this response at church.
And even if Mary didn’t commit the “sin” of sex before marriage, she still trangressed social mores. She was outside the bounds of what was accepted in her culture. And I’m sure the whole “pregnant by God” line sounded as far fetched then as it does today.



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Dennis Martin

posted November 29, 2006 at 10:14 am


Julie, how do you know I am uncompassionate? Really, how do you know? What I wrote insisted on being compassionate. How do you know that I am not? How do you know so much about me?



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Scot McKnight

posted November 29, 2006 at 10:24 am


Dennis,
Lighten up. The hearsay is yours. I stated explicitly that I don’t know why she was not on the list and I have no idea what People magazine is going to say, nor do I insinuate they are going to attack the Vatican. You’ve guessed (and then condemned) what you do not know — do you know what People will say? I don’t. [I deleted some direct response to Dennis. I can take this up with him privately.]



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Julie Clawson

posted November 29, 2006 at 10:40 am


Dennis – I don’t know you and was making no judgement on your level of compassion. You said that pointing out a person’s sin was the most compassionate thing you could do, and I disagreed.



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Drive-Thru Society

posted November 29, 2006 at 11:32 am


Dennis-
To clarify a couple of things: even if Joseph had gotten her pregnant according to Jewish law it still would have been a sin. It was standard tradition for a Jewish couple to have to been married for a year before they could consummate their marriage. So, in our day it would be similar to an engaged couple deciding to have sex before their actually wedding date. The difference would be that the reproductions in the Hellenistic Jewish culture would be quite sever. It did not matter if they had thought that Joseph was the father or not, according to their customs, Mary was whore and Jesus was bastard.
Why do we as followers of Christ constantly feel the need to expose sin? Does not the illumination of the Kingdom at Hand do that already? I am not saying that we should ignore the sin of injustice in the world like genocide, altar calls, and the new Rocky movie that I will see on opening day, but I am saying that we should not be so quickly “confront if love,” and seek out our own restoration. A prophet has the discernment to know when to speak and the discernment to know when to love people right where they are.



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kent

posted November 29, 2006 at 11:58 am


I guess you start with what rules were broken and what do they need? Compassion is not the same as condoning an action, compassion is meeting the need. Jesus was not condoning the woman at well’s lifestyle or the one caught in adultery, but they both had needs that Jesus addressed. Zacheaus also had needs and Jesus addressed those and because he did the “wee little man” was transfromed. I have three sons and believe me they need a truckload of compassion and they break all kinds of rules. BTW correction is also compassion when given graciously.



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kent

posted November 29, 2006 at 11:59 am


Oh and who is this Keisha Castle-Hughes person? I watch too much sports center.



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Dana Ames

posted November 29, 2006 at 12:14 pm


Kent, she is the Maori actress who portrays Mary in “The Nativity Story”. She had the lead role in “Whale Rider” a few years ago.
I watch BookTV on the weekends- to the consternation of my family- and twice now I have heard authors talking about sexual mores in American history as part of their more general works. One was from the Civil War, and the other was from the Federal period. From comparing marriage and baptismal registries for the same couples, both authors believe that _at least_ 30% of women in both eras were pregnant at the altar.
I think there is fodder for much interesting conversation, if we can keep from yelling at one another.
It’s obvious to me that simply reiterating the Law does not keep people from having sex outside of marriage.
Dana



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Tim Gombis

posted November 29, 2006 at 12:21 pm


This is indeed a huge issue, given the “boundaried” (to borrow Grenz’s term) nature of American (especially evangelical) church life. We’re often so worried about identifying clearly who’s “in” and who’s “out” that we’re not skilled at embracing the wounded and bruised, pursuing the hurting, and cultivating communities of acceptance and grace–true Christian hospitality, in the richest sense of that word.
In my experience, when most sinners enter churches, they’re fairly aware that they’re “sinners” and that they don’t “belong.” (We’ve had so many enter our doors apologetically, acknowledging that they’re in need and are slightly “out of place”–one reason, by the way, for the church to be going out instead of asking sinners to come in).
What such people are NOT ready for is the shock of having arms thrown around them, being given a warm welcome with nothing required of them, and being asked about how they can be served in the name of Jesus.



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Phil Monroe

posted November 29, 2006 at 12:41 pm


I had the pleasure of celebrating with a couple recently where the bride was “showing.” It led me to have a foretaste of that final wedding feast where we will all be wearing white despite the fact that we are not virginal. Here’s a shameless link to a post I made after attending the wedding: http://wisecounsel.wordpress.com/2006/08/22/a-taste-of-the-wedding-feast-of-the-lamb/
Phil



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amo

posted November 29, 2006 at 1:15 pm


if you google “keisha castle-hughes vatican,” you will find a nearly 50/50 split on articles about miss castle-hughes’ absence from the premiere. some say she was banned others say she backed out. the only way to know the truth is to ask her. if she’ll give it to you.



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Dennis Martin

posted November 29, 2006 at 1:21 pm


Scot, if you truly do not know why Ms. Castle-Hughes was not at the premiere, where is the “delicious irony” between her situation and that of Mary? If the irony is that Mary was treated uncompassionately because she was pregnant out of wedlock and because her situation is the same as Castle-Hughes’s situation, then you are saying that Castle-Hughes is being treated uncompassionately. By whom? Presumably by those who consider unwed pregnancy immoral and do so without compassion. Concretely, who are these people? The only concrete people mentioned in your original posting were the curial officials in the Vatican. Please show me why I should not have assumed that you were assuming they lacked compassion. Was I supposed to have assumed you introduced that aspect gratuitously, without rhetorical significance?
Scot, I did not introduce hearsay. You did. That you identified it as hearsay does not make it non-hearsay. If it played no role in your rhetorical development of “delicious irony” then why include it? If it did play a role, then you based at least part of your “delicious irony” on hearsay.
Quite apart from the Vatican “disinvitation,” the two cases of Mary and Castle-Hughes are not parallel. There is no delicious irony here unless one misrepresents the situation for one or the other or both.
And it is a red herring to ask why some people feel a great need to expose sin. No one exposed Castle-Hughes’s sin except Castle-Hughes. She thinks it is no sin. Those who disagree and say it is do not thereby expose her sin and they may or may not be compassionate.
I wouldn’t really much care that Keisha Castle-Hughes is pregnant out of wedlock because it is so common today, except that people are making a big deal out of her being pregnant and they do so because she played Mary in the film and because she was the only actor not at the premiere.
But the big deal was not made by Christian traditionalists, rather, by those who who saw a chance to put their thumb in the eye of the Vatican by pointing to a rumored disinvitation and attributing it to a narrow moralism.
Look, Scot, I’m all for raising the question of how to be compassionate toward unwed mothers. But you could have raised this issue in a dozen different ways. You did it by specific reference to Castle-Hughes. Now, strictly in terms of rhetoric, to get from Castle-Hughes to a general problem of lack of compassion toward unwed mothers you have to adduce evidence of lack of compassion toward Castle-Hughes. The media are full of compassion toward her. The only possible non-compassionate ones in your posting are the disinviters in the Vatican. If you had someone else in mind, why not mention them?
As for myself, I am full of compassion for Castle-Hughes. I am, however, also full of compassion for the falsely accused Vatican and by extension for all traditionalists who are falsely accused of lacking compassion whenever they insist on the truth about extra-marital sex. It’s one of the oldest strategies in the book, Scot. And I’m sorry that a blog about “delicious irony” in the case of Castle-Hughes and Our Lady unwittingly carries water for those who have a libertine agenda about extra-marital sex.
As I wrote originally, certainly it is possible to be supercilious, unloving, uncompassionate in naming sin. But to accuse someone of lack of compassion one needs evidence of lack of compassion. In this case, no evidence has been adduced. It has been assumed. Julie assumes it about me even though I expressly denied it.



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Dennis Martin

posted November 29, 2006 at 1:41 pm


Julie, your response to me said that what I wrote illustrated why unwed mothers can’t hear the Church. Am I correct to assume that you meant that unwed mothers run from the Church’s presentation of moral teaching if and when it is presented with insufficient compassion? In other words, if presented with compassion, it can be heard? Most of the contributions to this thread seem to be saying that, indeed, so much so that up until Ryan’s post immediately before mine, there was very little about naming sin for what it is as a component of genuine compassion.
If what I wrote illustrates the opposite why unwed mothers can’t hear the sort of thing I write, I might perhaps, in compassion, be forgiven for concluding that you thought what I wrote lacked compassion and for that reason would be unhearable to unwed mothers? I am glad to have been informed that you did not think what I wrote lacked compassion, because I did indeed, in writing it, bend over backwards to insist that the truth about sin must be presented with compassion.
You disagree with me about whether pointing out sin is a compassionate thing. Perhaps you object to “most compassionate thing.” But if you look at what I wrote, I said that “sometimes” it “can be” the “most compassionate thing to do.”
Well, I do have to insist that in some tough love situations it is exactly the the most compassionate thing to do. In other situations it is not. Do you really disagree that sometimes pointing out sin can be the most compassionate thing to do? If so, then at least we have clarified a large difference between us.



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ALAN

posted November 29, 2006 at 1:43 pm


Dennis,
I get the impression that those who are accusing you of lack of compassion are defining ‘compassion’ differently than you would or than one should, biblically speaking.
And I see that often; those who call for the biblical solution are criticised for being harsh, unloving, etc.
The proper model is to reach out in love and offer forgiveness *on condition of repentance*. Once repentance occurs, *drop all condemnation*, love the repentant sinner, help in any way possible. But giving a sinner a false sense of “you’re OK” when they are most definitely not OK but are rather servants of sin and slaves to death is no help at all. Indeed, it is *the least* compassionate thing to do.
Were I in charge of inviting her to the Vatican movie premiere, OTOH, that’s a tough call. You don’t think any other actors or personnel are unbelievers? What makes their sin and unrepentance any less unsavory than that of Ms. Castle-Hughes? Might as well invite them. But how about making sure they also understand the Gospel? (Not that I expect that from Roman Catholicism, but they could at least give it a try.)
ALAN



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Scot McKnight

posted November 29, 2006 at 2:08 pm


Dennis,
All I can say is that are simply not listening to what I am saying. So, I’ll say it again:
The irony is that Mary and Keisha are in the same social condition. (That’s what I say.) That’s an irony. I affirm Mary’s innocence; I don’t affirm Keisha’s. The the Church — not the RCC (please observe) — will be challenged to treat her with compassion in a biblical manner. That’s my point, Dennis.
Once again: I say I don’t know why she was not on the list. Again: I don’t know why. I am not thereby impugning Rome; again: I’m not impugning Rome. Rumors are, Dennis. No one denies that.
Again: I have not said or suggested that anyone has treated her poorly — I don’t know that. I have said that we (not just Catholics) are being summoned to treat her compassionately.
Gotta go.



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David

posted November 29, 2006 at 2:32 pm


Although I think that it is important to have compassion on those who are involved in sin and having a child out of wedlock is sin………it is also important to highlight that continuing in that sin is not compatible with the Kingdom of Heaven. I think often there is a false sense of security in our being tolerant of all sin and not really recognizing the need to actually articulate that many things that people are doing are reflective of them being on the wrong road. Sometimes true compassion is having the courage to say something. A good friend of mine had a situation where his wife was involved with another man who was in a position of leadership in the church they were in. It has devestated two families. Adultery is wrong and it is sin and it causes pain. Although we can love the sinner……..it is important to be able to articulate that swallowing battery acid is not good and you probably need to stop.
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts,
nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6



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alice shirey

posted November 29, 2006 at 3:29 pm


And what of they young man with whom Keisha “sinned?”
Too often, because women end up with the part of the sin that “shows,” they bear the brunt of the judgement … while often the man can run under the radar, so to speak.
Probably not really related to this post, but it just struck me as I read all the opinions … “Yea, but where’s the guy?” ran through my head.



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ALAN

posted November 29, 2006 at 3:47 pm


Alice,
May I ask why you put “sinned” between “” in your comment?



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Cheryl

posted November 29, 2006 at 3:48 pm


As to what constitutes compassion, it’s my view that Jesus seemed to indicate that it was total acceptance…then letting the Holy Spirit do its work within a person to convict them of their own wrongs.
Consider Jesus’ examples: the prodigal son, the shepherd who leaves the herd to search for one lost lamb, the adulterous woman. I’m sure there are probably more, but I’m not at a concordance right now.
We must take care not to behave like the jealous brother of the prodigal, nor the crowd ready to stone another. I, for one, celebrate God’s grace and His compassion to those that “I” might deem not worthy.
It seems to me that believers recognizing, pointing out, and dealing with each others’ sin is best accomplished in more mature believers. New believers just need to be loved. Using the analogy of a child… you can try to teach a newborn right from wrong all day long, but it won’t make a bit of difference. It’s not until they have a significant amount of nurturing and teaching that they have understanding.



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David

posted November 29, 2006 at 4:27 pm


Men can run under the radar as Alice said in #27 and it seems that women bear the obvious brunt of having their sin displayed publicly but all sin will become public.
“For nothing is hid that shall not be made manifest, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come to light.”
Luke 8
In many cases it is not so much that we are to judge because everything we do will be eventually brought out into the open and it will be plan to everyone. That is the point in many cases of trying to remove sin from our lives and demonstrate we are part of Jesus’s Kingdom. You can only be part of one Kingdom. It is either God’s or it is not His. To continually persist in sin is evidence of being part of the Kingdom of Darkness. That being said I think the sin of judgement without compassion is far worse than anything else. It is grace that enables us to walk out our lives in purity and it was given to us. I think when Jesus said……..”let him who is without sin cast the first stone”…….it meant you should be fully aware of your own need of grace before you start attacking someone else. The purpose of a surgeon is to cut out the cancer ( sin ) and not kill the patient. God can and does use us to assist him just as he would use a scalpel. Peter wanted to rain down fire from heaven and Jesus said that he did not get it. Often we dont either.



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ALAN

posted November 29, 2006 at 4:34 pm


Cheryl,
And yet, is it not 100% necessary for REPENTANCE to take place before we accept sinners as Christians?
Romans 3:19-20 -
19Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God;
20because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
Yet if sin is not realised or taken into account, how will one mouth’s be closed? If you stubbornly hold to your sin, how does the knowledge of sin come in?



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Cheryl

posted November 29, 2006 at 4:47 pm


#31 Alan,
I cannot judge whether or not someone has repented or not. Plenty of people repent, sin, repent, sin, and over and over. Only God will know what is truly in their heart, not me.
There are plenty of people who have acceptable behavior and black hearts. We are not to presume to know the heart of anyone. All we can do is love people, point them to scripture and prayer.
If someone asks me my advice about their life, of course, I will tell them what I think. Otherwise, I leave other people up to God’s ability to direct them in the way they should go.



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alice shirey

posted November 29, 2006 at 4:55 pm


Alan (#31) I’m not sure if you look at the life of Jesus that He demanded 100% repentance PRIOR to asking people to follow Him … I’d imagine after they followed Him for any length of time, repentance came to them. I wonder if we sometimes try to put the cart before the horse, so to speak. I’m just pondering …
Very often it seems that hearing of the grace and mercy of Jesus brings people to repentance; something that stern denouncing of sin rarely does.



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ALAN

posted November 29, 2006 at 4:59 pm


#32 Cheryl,
Yes, you can judge that. Anyone can, and that’s the point. If they say, “I repent of my sin, and it was indeed sin,” then they have repented.
And we ALL sin, yes. Romans 7 describes the plight of the believer struggling w/ the flesh, yet I do not desire to sin. But Romans 8 tells us that the mind of the unbeliever is set on death, not on purity and avoiding sin. If you ask Ms. Castle-Hughes if she did anything wrong, will she say, “Oh absolutely, and it’s tearing me up,” or “No,” or “none of your business”? If it’s the 1st, she’s repentant. If it’s anythg like the latter 2, you make the call.
And nobody has acceptable behavior, Cheryl. How familiar are you w/ Romans 3? By loving people, we point them not only to the Gospel of grace but to the REASON FOR the Gospel, which is that they are destined for death w/o Christ.
Finally, as far as advising people about their life, have you ever considered sharing w/ them compassionately yet w/ all conviction that they are doomed unless they repent before Jesus Christ? Does not God call US to “direct them in the way they should go” in sharing w/ them the Gospel?



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ALAN

posted November 29, 2006 at 5:00 pm


#33 Alice,
How do you expect someone to repent of sin they know nothing about or refuse to admit is wrong and evil?
(That’s not a rhetorical question, BTW, though it may sound like it :-) ).



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Cheryl

posted November 29, 2006 at 5:14 pm


#34 Alan,
Just for clarification, by “acceptable behavior” I meant behavior that one can hide behind and which often imitates real Christianity…going to church, not drinking, not cheating on their spouse, etc. There are plenty of people like that who are also greedy, unloving, gossipy, etc. Therefore, you’d have no reason to “confront” them with their need to repent, because you would not see their real heart manifested in their behaviors. Even the Pharisees had no idea they were full of sin, though their outward behavior was impeccable. Only Jesus, who knew their hearts, called them on their sin.
Conversely, the person who has behavior that is often considered “immoral” perhaps has a softer heart that IS open to what scripture would reveal to them. Those who know they are sinners are sometimes more open to the working of Holy Spirit than those who think they have it all figured out.
That was my point. I am to love people and direct them to scripture to “work out their own salvation,” not persuade them to my idea of their salvation.



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alice shirey

posted November 29, 2006 at 5:14 pm


Alan (#35) – I don’t.
I am just not sure that lambasting people with a call to repentance is the first step that should always be taken. It certainly wasn’t in my conversion experience.
I’d imagine once people started following Jesus and learning of his teaching and of his grace and mercy … repentance followed. That was my point.
We are turning so many off with our quick demand for repentance without ever introducing them to the love and grace and mercy (and did I say grace?) of Jesus. Much of the new writing about evangelism in this culture addresses this issue.
We are probably on the same page regarding the need for repentance, my friend. Just different ideas on timing.



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ALAN

posted November 29, 2006 at 5:24 pm


#36 Cheryl,
OK, understood.
Yes, we are responsible before God for our hearts. That does not mean that we have no responsibility to call out sin when we see it. Or to pass over obvious sin w/ a “Oh, it’s OK” attitude.
–the person who has behavior that is often considered “immoral” perhaps has a softer heart
>>Perhaps, but it doesn’t follow that I should stop calling sin sin.
–I am to love people and direct them to scripture to “work out their own salvation,” not persuade them to my idea of their salvation.
>>How does that comport w/ what God said in Romans 3:19-20 (posted above) and Jesus’ and Paul’s msg: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”?



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ALAN

posted November 29, 2006 at 5:24 pm


#37 Alice,
I wasn’t saying that it should always be the 1st thing. But it must not be neglected.
As for the timing, I see what you’re saying, but we MUST keep in mind that it is the GOSPEL that is the power of God unto salvation. The Gospel’s prerequisite is repentance. Nothing, not “love” or “mercy” or whatever else you want, carries the same power as the Gospel.



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Cheryl

posted November 29, 2006 at 5:46 pm


Alan,
I’m not trying to persuade you to change the way you deal with people. I’m telling you how I deal with people (as much as possible).
I do not point out even obvious sin to people, unless they ask me what I think about something. I’m not even saying I have a Biblical precedent. But if I tried to adhere to every single verse in the Bible that you could provide for me to rightfully judge others, I’d still fail. So what I try to do is dwell on the things that Jesus seemed to dwell on when telling us how to deal with one another… mercy, love, grace.
I may be in error, and I’m willing to concede that, but I choose to err on the side of extending grace to my neighbor and then more fervently deal with my own shortcomings.



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Linea

posted November 29, 2006 at 6:19 pm


Alan #3
I believe the good news, the Gospel, is all about love and mercy. That is what Jesus came for and what he provided for us by his death and resurrection.
I don’t believe that Jesus followed your advice – that forgiveness be offered only on condition of repentance. He did not say to the woman caught in adultery “If you repent of what you did, no one will throw stones.” But can you imagine a woman in her situation offering Jesus anything but heartfelt devotion following this? His love in attending a meal at Zacheus’ home moved this sinful man to repent and offer restitution to those he had wronged but Jesus visited him while he was still in the wrong. The father’s love for his prodigal son never allowed him to lose hope that his son would return. His son hardly got a chance to repent before the welcome home party began.
His forgiveness to me is not conditional. He knows that I will need to return to him continually and I know he will always let me come home. It is his love I come back for. It draws me back causing me to repent because I know I have grieved the one I love and there is nothing that feels better than his pleasure.



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ALAN

posted November 29, 2006 at 6:24 pm


#40 Cheryl,
–I do not point out even obvious sin to people, unless they ask me what I think about something.
>>Do you claim to follow the example of Christ?
–I’m not even saying I have a Biblical precedent.
>>It would be hard to maintain a claim that you did.
–But if I tried to adhere to every single verse in the Bible that you could provide for me to rightfully judge others, I’d still fail.
>>What bugs me is that you seem (operative word = “seem”. I’m hoping you’ll prove me wrong) not even to want to try. And that makes me sad.
–I may be in error, and I’m willing to concede that, but I choose to err
>>Why choose to err at all when the Scriptures are clear on this issue? There’s no glory in willful ignorance.
Peace,
ALAN



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ALAN

posted November 29, 2006 at 6:30 pm


#41 Linea,
–I believe the good news, the Gospel, is all about love and mercy.
>>Definitely, 100%. And why do we need *mercy*?
–He did not say to the woman caught in adultery “If you repent of what you did, no one will throw stones.”
>>But He knew what was in her heart.
And He did say “Go and sin no more.” How could He say that if He was just all about “love and mercy” as YOU define them? Again, *mercy*. As opposed to judgment *by God* of *our sin*.
Mercy w/o need of mercy is empty.
–His forgiveness to me is not conditional.
>>It may not be NOW, but it WAS at one time. W/o repentance, there is no forgiveness.
–It draws me back causing me to repent
>>Well, see, there you go! You repent. For whatever reason, you repent. But what I keep hearing is that we should not tell people it is necessary to repent. And that is the terrible issue at stake here. I am hoping that those who seem to say so will tell me I’m mistaken, that they agree but have so far expressed themselves badly in that regard.



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kat

posted November 29, 2006 at 6:35 pm


John 8:1-11
The love and compassion are not blind to sin but merely don’t handle those who’ve sinned with rubber gloves as if they are spiritual lepers. I don’t know Ms. Castle-Hughes’ story but I choose to follow Jesus in how to deal with someone who needs an encounter with Him. Peace.



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Cheryl

posted November 29, 2006 at 6:59 pm


#42 Alan,
I debated on whether or not to respond to this, because this is Scot’s blog, and I feel like you’ve singled me out for a back and forth. So I’ll try to explain my position again, then let it go.
Honestly, sometimes I follow Christ’s example very well… sometimes I try and fail miserably… and sometimes, I get so confused about what it’s really all about that I just sit dumbfounded and do nothing. So I hope that answers your first question/implication.
What my overarching point is, is that sin originates in the heart, and I cannot and will not try to be a judge of that in others. If someone’s behavior is illegal, then let the law get them. If it’s immoral, and I know it’s causing dysfunction in my sphere of influence, I will probably call them on it, but that’s not the same as telling them to repent, of course.
To me, loving someone and telling them that they can find what the answers for their life in scripture (which is where they will find the need for repenance) is far more powerful than ME telling them they need to repent.



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ALAN

posted November 29, 2006 at 7:30 pm


Cheryl,
I didn’t mean to single you out. You responded to me specifically before I you, but that doesn’t matter. Hopefully we’ve not gone too far afield from the thrust of the post/combox; I would hope Scot would corral us if we were.
Just one thing:
–To me, loving someone and telling them that they can find what the answers for their life in scripture (which is where they will find the need for repenance) is far more powerful than ME telling them they need to repent.
>>The Scripture does both. It provides answers for life. And it calls us to repentance by revealing the blackness of our hearts. My hope and prayer is that you and anyone else reading this will gain the courage of conviction to be able to tell people “God says X” and stand behind it, b/c X is contained in God’s Word, which is God Himself speaking.
Peace,



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David

posted November 29, 2006 at 7:43 pm


I think this love vs wrath ( sin ) conversation is such that groups tend to side with one or the other sometimes. Those that stress the love often neglect the wrath part of it and those that stress the wrath part of it often neglect the love. The point is that you must hold both sides of the equation in balance. The cross demonstrates the extreme wrath of God and the extreme love. They are like two tracks on the railroad. We need to hold to both at the same time and be concious of it. If we continue to sin then there is no sacrifice for sin.
“For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries.” Hebrews 10
“For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of nether gloom to be kept until the judgment;if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven other persons, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;……then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment..”
Hebrews 2
Although it seems to me that there definitely is a need for compassion and love and understanding…….the reality is that the lesson of Ananias and Saphira requires that we proceed with caution whenever someone is walking in sin. We certainly do not want to throw stones but the reality is that often we can do more harm than good by not opening our mouth.



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Julie

posted November 29, 2006 at 7:55 pm


what I find interesting about this conversation is that Scot pointed out the irony of an unwed teen being the actress who played Mary an unwed teen. It is only in hindsight that we can say that Mary was different than Keisha. Who knows what Keisha’s situation is?
Mary’s pregnancy would not have been thought to be holy or virginal by onlookers and neither is Keisha’s.
Also, the birth of a child out of wedlock may actually be the greatest obedience! After all, sounds like Keisha intends to have the baby and not abort it.



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ALAN

posted November 29, 2006 at 7:58 pm


We do know one thing about Keisha’s situation. It’s not anything like Mary’s in terms of how it came about or the holiness of it.
I actually wonder if most of Keisha’s surrounding people think that there’s anything wrong w/ what she’s done. In many ways I doubt it!



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alice shirey

posted November 29, 2006 at 8:14 pm


Ya’ know … if we were sitting together over coffee right now (as Scot encourages us to imagine) I think I would say to many of the responders, “No wonder most folks would rather read the Sunday New York Times than come to church.” Some of this sounds so “holier than thou” and self-righteous. Kind of makes me sad tonight.
I think I will spend some time in the Gospels tonight taking special note of the fact that
sinners, outcasts, prostitutes, losers, adulterers, those rejected by the religious elite as too unclean, flocked to Jesus in droves …



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Scot McKnight

posted November 29, 2006 at 8:20 pm


Well, I’ve been downtown today for an interview about Mary and Keisha (well, the Mary of the movie) and am just now getting through all these comments.
Advice: step back and notice something. Alan et al … each of you knows that repentance is needed, but there is a genuine difference of opinion about how to speak of such. There is no difference on whether or not we should love these persons, engage in relationship with them, and somehow — depending on person and context and relationship — to speak of the need for repentance, faith in God, and following Jesus. We can agree on that. I see no need to debate about how and when such needs to arise.



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Scot McKnight

posted November 29, 2006 at 8:22 pm


Alice,
You must have been in my class when I said that the separatists of Jesus’ day said “be pure and you can eat with us.” Jesus said (this is a big point for Chilton’s stuff), “Eat with me and I’ll make you pure.” (This is a stereotype of course, but the point is very important: Jesus welcomed to table, to relationship, and out of that relationship repentance emerged.)



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alice shirey

posted November 29, 2006 at 8:36 pm


Scot (#52) Yup. And I just read a bunch more of your stuff (and others) on Jesus and table fellowship and how radical it was that he invited sinful folks to eat with him. Then He could make them clean. That has been seared into my heart. We throw so many roadblocks down in front of people … we need to instead clear the path so they can get to Jesus. Will repentance follow? If Jesus has anything to do with it – of course!
I just happen to believe that it is the kindness of God that leads people to repent. I see this in my life as a parent all the time. When I am kind to my kids when they go astray …(not accepting, but kind), they almost always end up quietly, authentically saying, “I was wrong. Forgive me.” When I yell and play the righteous card … they just go to their room.



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David

posted November 29, 2006 at 8:40 pm


You are right Alice sometimes it does sound holier than thou but the point is that although the church may be made up sinners, outcasts, prostitutes, losers and adulterers it was not intended that they stay in that condition. Jesus did not die on the cross so that we continue to walk in sin and disobedience, he died so we could walk in victory. The world is filled with those whose lives are not in alignment with God but he wants us to change. That is the gospel and that is the good news. We are not supposed to remain in our fallen condition but to be transformed.
“And you he made alive, when you were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. Among these we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of body and mind, and so we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians
If we are with him in the heavenly places then we should not be walking in known sin. The church as it is mentioned in Revelation is a church that CONQUERS.
“To him who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”
“He who conquers shall not be hurt by the second death.”
“To him who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone which no one knows except him who receives it.”
“He who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, I will give him power over the nations.”
“He who conquers shall be clad thus in white garments, and I will not blot his name out of the book of life; I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.”
“He who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God; never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.”
“He who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.”
“He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son.”
I dont know about the rest of you but I want all those things that they who CONQUER obtain and I want to be part of a church that wants the same things. It seems that it is sadder to have a church that is walking in defeat than one that is walking in victory.
“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith.”
1 John 5



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ALAN

posted November 29, 2006 at 8:54 pm


It’s holier than thou to define that the Gospel demands repentance?
Amazing.



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Scot McKnight

posted November 29, 2006 at 8:59 pm


Alan,
I don’t think anyone is denying the need for repentance — but how that is expressed and when and (most especially) in what context. Alice’s last comment is insightful. I agree. Not that there is not a need to say “repent” — but we must not think of that as someone getting in someone’s face and screaming at the top of their lungs but of someone who years for another person, out of love, to mend their ways in order to follow the ways of God.



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alice shirey

posted November 29, 2006 at 8:59 pm


David – (#54) I repeat,as I wrote in post #52 … “Will repentance follow? If Jesus has anything to do with it — of course!”
No one, not one single soul on this post is advocating “a church that is walking in defeat.”
But for Christians to act like non-Christians are the only folk who struggle with sin … well, anyone who looks with realism at the state of the church knows that ain’t the deal. The major difference is we’ve fallen upon the treasure of grace.
Do I advocate for continued growth toward wholeness and holiness for those who follow Jesus? Of course. But it is love and gratitude and the power of the Spirit that move us toward those things. Not fear. Not guilt. Not shame.



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Jennifer

posted November 29, 2006 at 9:04 pm


Some of this conversation reminds me of Scot’s post about the Haggard situation and the need for evangelicals to have more access to people they can confess to.
When I need to confess, I need to do it to someone who will have a pastoral response, not a judgmental one. This is doubly true when I dont see my sin as sin. Someone pointing a finger of “tough love” is not going to help me, and I will avoid the chance to confess.



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David

posted November 30, 2006 at 5:47 am


“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
Philipians
Although I would like to agree with you Alice, the point is that to remove all fear is not biblical. The cross is a great place to get rid of our shame and our guilt but I dont know if we are supposed to get rid of our fear there. In Amazing grace…….”twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved.” I dont think the fear is supposed to evaporate but that it stays in tension with his amazing love.
“Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;
and to depart from evil is understanding.” Job
“The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.” Psalms
“Let all the earth fear the LORD,let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love.” Psalms
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction. Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD.” Proverbs
“Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men; but what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience.” 2 Corinthians 5
Am I saying that we should not be compassionate? No. We should feed the hungry and clothe the naked and give a drink to the thirsty. I believe that maturity in Christ includes a realization of what the cross means and that will bring us to an even greater realization of the tremendous love that God has for us. The message of Jesus
often sounds like the message of Buddha…….it is just about love and compassion and we dont judge anyone. Although I am articulating this point of view…….in all reality…….I cant remember any time I have asked someone to fear the Lord. Never. Do I fear the Lord or is he my buddy? If we fear God then we fear nothing else. I need to grow this in me.



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Julie

posted November 30, 2006 at 8:21 am


Am I saying that we should not be compassionate? No. We should feed the hungry and clothe the naked and give a drink to the thirsty.
What I hear the counter point saying is that we are the hungry, the naked and the thirsty, too.



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Kansas Bob

posted November 30, 2006 at 9:11 am


Sad how we view unwed pregnancies. In my fundamentalist days I harshly judged a young girl who was very close to me and very pregnant – I have always regretted my attitudes and actions. Why is it that we can be so pro-life and so unloving. Barbara’s story (http://barbara007.typepad.com/prodigal_daughter/2006/07/freedom_in_chri.html) is an extreme example of how unloving even parents can be.



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Carol E

posted November 30, 2006 at 3:29 pm


We are to love, not judge. To any one who is making unloving, unjudgmental comments or thoughts should definitely read Jesus Creed. Highly recommended reading for anyone who has difficulties accepting choices other make. I am a better person for having read it. God bless you!



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Ross

posted November 30, 2006 at 11:01 pm


Hi Scot
It’s an interesting topic, but I don’t think for one moment that Mary and Keisha are in the same social situation. Mary was a relatively poor girl from an obscure village who found herself in a situation which at the time was regarded as shameful. Keisha is a rich young girl now from Hollywood who seems to know what she is doing and which is no longer regarded as shameful. Anything, but! She has a publicist for heaven’s sake, who seems to be milking the story for all it’s worth. That’s why we are talking about it.
Keisha has broken no social rules. Whether she has broken God’s rules or not is for others to decide. If she has, I am sure that God will treat her the same way as he treats me when I break his rules – with compassion and with realism.



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Scott M

posted December 1, 2006 at 12:24 am


OK. I guess I’ll comment. “Teen Parent” is inextricably part of my identity, even decades later. And being instructed from the pulpit to remove my sleeping daughter from a service certainly … delayed any openness to Christianity on my part. As such, my view is that if people are not covered in our love, flowing and overflowing from the love we receive from our trinitarian God, anything else we might have to say will be completely lost.



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